The boys slowed down as they reached the edge of the track area, tracks left in the layer of white snow. The trio stood, panting, catching their breath as other students evacuated the school. Half of them didn't even care if there was a real fire or not (though the school burning down would be a pretty nice excuse for a long weekend), the teens simply scattering, clustering into their friend groups, and loitering in the yard.

Kenny released his hold on the other two, placing his hands on his bent knees as he inhaled the crisp wintry air, the temperature burning his lungs and icing over the sweat on his skin. His muscles felt fatigued, running more in that chase through the halls than his entire P.E. career. But there was always that one delightful thought that kept him from yelling about his physical pain; he got away from Kevin.

Kyle huffed, taking in heavy even breathes, chest rising and falling. His wrist hurt from the tight grip the blond had on him, but other than that Kyle had nothing to complain about. Nothing but how Kenny's sex drive steered him into another scrap he barely got out of without a firm ass-kicking. He looked at the blond from under his lashes, ready to yell at him once he could breath normally again.

Stan, the most worn of them all, nearly plopped on the ground like a sack of potatoes. He only stayed standing because his feet rooted in the snow, soles of his boots set in the earth. The ebon watched the wispy cloud of breath dance in front of his face, mesmerised by the translucent smoke. All that happened was a blur, the events playing out at twice the normal speed, occurring like a quick action sequence that lasted a blink of an eye. The running also jumbled his thoughts, his half complete jigsaw puzzle thrown on the ground and broken, leaving him to start all over again.

Fuck... He thought.

Kenny glanced over his shoulder, getting a glimpse of the crowds forming around the building. He couldn't see a sign of Stoley or any administrators bent on busting them; they were in the clear.

"Hehe," He smiled, straightening up as he looked back at his friends, "Good work team, yeah?"

Kyle snapped his head up, gritting his teeth as he stared at Kenny's smiling face.

"Are you ever going to learn to stay out of trouble?" The redhead muttered sourly.

"Ah, Ky, you know Trouble's my middle name," Kenny winked, tone still playful to disarm Kyle's more venomous edge.

"Ugh," He scoffed, rolling his eyes and staring down at the snow. There were no words that could properly combat Kenny's...Kenniness. Kyle didn't seem to have a word in his vocabulary or know a word in any dictionary to truly describe it. That fact both annoyed him and, to a lesser extent, compelled him at times.

"What did you-," Stan yawned, turning to face Kenny, "Do...?"

"Stoley's got his panties in a bunch because I had a little fling with his sis and proceeded to be a cocky douche and broadcast it... Jesus where have you been?" Kenny cocked his head to the side, "I mean, I know you're tired as fuck but, god man, you are OUT of it."

"Right...Oh..." Stan blinked, wishing he could just have that goddamn coffee kick in already and keep him up. Lord knew that sleep wasn't as nice of an option as it seemed.

"Stan, go home and go to bed," Kyle instructed, gazing into Stan's eyes, ignoring the lighter, milkier tone to the blue, "Like, right fucking now."

"No, I'm fine," He said, speaking louder. He reached up and squeezed the bridge of his nose, a headache of both aggravation and sleep deprivation forming, stabbing at his head. Whatever he did, he had to do something that would, at very least, bring them all to a form of peace.

The last thing I'm doing with shit like this going on is having another fucking nightmare...

"Oh for God's sake, will you just listen to us?" Kyle snapped, purple sheen returning to his eyes, urges to grab Stan and shake the defiance out of him rising.

"Kyle," Stan pinched the bone harder. He wasn't sure how to reply. He verged on outright shouting at the redhead, blowing up in a poor effort to express his feelings. Stan knew better, though, but the better option of explaining to Kyle that things weren't alright concealed itself, hiding away to feign non-existence. Thus, he had no rebuttal, the boy's name hanging in the air without an argument accompanying it.

"Don't 'Kyle' me," He said, seizing the opportunity to shred Stan's slimmer chances of convincing him anything other than what Kyle knew to be true, "I know you need rest and there's no dispute about it. So get your ass home before I fucking drag you."

"No!" Stan yelled, swaying where he stood.

"Both of ya, calm your shit already!" Kenny shouted, raising his voice above them both.

Stan and Kyle turned, staring at the blond, Stan in a daze, Kyle in a developing frenzy.

Kenny looked between the two, biting his lip. The dynamic duo quarrelling nonstop off-set him even more, as did the odd muskiness of Stan's milky eyes and the peculiar purple of Kyle's. Bad vibes surrounded them, the negativity in the air as thick as hybrid smug.

"I'm sick of bein' the moderator for everyone's fights today, okay?" He said, letting out a sigh. He grasped his hood, flipping it up to cover his head loosely, "And you two of all people shouldn't be screeching at each other this much. I'm surprised this ain't like when we found that guy from 1996!"

Stan coughed, shoving his hands into his coat pockets and lowering his gaze. The worst part was that he agreed with Kenny; he just had trouble showing it.

Then again Kyle's being pretty fucking difficult...

Kyle crossed his arms, hugging his chest as a gust of harsh wind blew against them. Stan's denseness and Kenny's habit to intercede frustrated him, neither of them listening or understanding a word he said. He was speaking plain English, so was there something in there they just could not comprehend?

Both of them are acting like...idiots...

"Well..." Kenny shifted, the argument brought to a definite standstill, "Now that I've pissed ya both off, mind cooperating?"

"Shut up," Kyle muttered.

"That's my Jew," The blond looked over to Stan, "Now Stan I want ya to get your ass home and sleep right-"

"STAN!"

Out of the blue, Wendy emerged from the crowds, bulleting towards her boyfriend, mood magically lifted. Her sudden happiness sharply contrasted with Kenny and Kyle's picture of her earlier, a smile on her face adding a suspicious brightness. Perhaps it was a miracle mood-swing that'd knocked her out of her dark swirl of despair, or perhaps there was something more. Kenny and Kyle leaned towards the latter.

Stan turned to her slowly, only fully registering her presence when the girl wrapped her arms around him, squeezing his arms to his sides. She clung, gluing to him as she did before, but more as a happy greeting rather than a form of distress. The always independent Wendy Testaburger decided that a little public display of affection wasn't the ultimate sign of female submission after all.

Kenny and Kyle took a few steps back, both of them glancing between the couple and one another. A hug out of nowhere was more of Bebe's thing than Wendy's; not to mention how cheery she seemed. Her lips curved in a relaxed smile, but with an off curl to the corners. Rather than shivering and quivering, she held Stan with an unexpected firmness, not a tremor going through her. Then there were her eyes, which shined like a cat that'd just caught the canary, a minty shade to the irises.

"Wendy..." Stan said, looking down to see the crown of her head, "You're here..."

"And better," Kenny added. Kyle elbowed the blond, telling him to hold his tongue next time.

Wendy shot a glare at the other two, narrowing her eyes, turning from a content housecat to a fierce lioness in two seconds flat. Both the look and the abrupt change chilled the two orange-clad boys, Kenny and Kyle freezing into ice sculptures.

"Ahem," She looked up at Stan, turning back into a lovable kitten, "I talked to Mr. Mackey before, so I think I'm all sorted out for the rest of the day...though I still suppose I should talk to you, too."

"Oh yeah..." Almost forgot about that.... "Well I guess I have nothing else to do unless..." He glanced over at the redhead and the blond.

The other two looked at one another, silently seeking confirmation for what they'd say. Neither of them were keen on Stan running off with Wendy-Kyle especially-but they'd need to phrase it perfectly as not to cause another eruption of female fury. With a stern nod, they both looked back at Stan, mouths open to voice their complaints.

However, rather than just a set of milky blue eyes meeting their gazes, Wendy stared at them as well, the metallic emerald cutting them like a gemstone sword. She managed to silence them both with her stare, threatening to unleash the lioness' ire if they dared speak.

Kenny shut his mouth immediately, locking his jaw in place, words of protest still sitting on his tongue. Kyle, meanwhile, let his mouth hang open, tongue retracting to his throat, wanting it to snap back and spit out his poisonous words to startle off the raven-haired girl. The words, in the long run, would end up useless and only unintentionally goad Stan into leaving with her, causing Kyle's speechlessness.

Wendy raised an eyebrow, mutely encouraging them to reply to Stan correctly. The cat really did have their tongues.

"Nah, bro, attend to your woman," Kenny said, forcing a simper, "Ky and I'll just chill without ya. Right?" He glanced back at the redhead.

He hesitated, eyes flickering between each other three before letting out a sigh, "Yeah, go on..." The response came out as painlessly as teeth being pulled without novocaine.

"See? We can reschedule our threesome for later, you go on with your lady, Stanny," Kenny grinned. His stupid remarks earned him another glower from the new countess of chagrin.

Stan nodded, gazing back at Wendy. Once she felt the ebon's eyes back on her (where they rightfully belonged, in her opinion), she looked back up at him, smiling innocently, kittenish angel side overshadowing her true intensions.

"We can walk over to Stark's, how about that?" She proposed, unlatching herself from his torso. As he thought it over, Wendy slipped a hand into Stan's pocket, fishing out his hand to hold tightly.

"But Stark's is really far away..." He muttered, just the thought of all that walking exhausting him.

"He should go home, Wendy," Kyle said loudly.

All eyes went to the Semite, Wendy angered, Kenny shocked, and Stan in a state of half-cluelessness.

"He's a mess, and if the son of a bitch won't listen to us then maybe you can convince him otherwise," He continued, sounding as-a-matter-of-factly, "You do want him to get better and be okay, don't you?"

That caught Wendy off guard; and that's what got to her. As much as she wanted to ignore the attention thief, as she so deemed him, she had to admit that he had a valid point. Stan's needs came to the front, and Stan needed to go home and rest.

...But I'll be the one to do that, I'm the only one who can help him...I'm going to do the best job and no one can tell me otherwise...

"...Right," She said through gritted teeth, tugging lightly on Stan's arm, "I'll just walk you home," Already the girl began to lead him towards the road.

"I...okay..." Stan gave in quickly, seeing it best to save his energy for thought rather than wasting it on futile causes that, in the end, would lose anyway, "Bye guys..." He mumbled, letting his girlfriend drag him along. He stole one more look at his friends before letting his head roll over his shoulder and fix straight ahead.

Maybe without Kyle yelling at me I'll be able to focus... Or at least by myself some time to figure out how Wendy is...

Kyle and Kenny watched as the dishevelled dark-haired couple shrunk as they walked into the distance, waiting until they reached the concrete before turning their attention elsewhere.

Kyle quickly looked to his feet, kicking the snow as he muttered incoherent garble under his breath. He scarcely knew what was coming out of his mouth, let alone noticing when his set language switched to Yiddish, but none of it mattered. Today, somehow, Stan managed to really wind him up. The scariest part was he didn't know entirely why.

Kenny focused on Kyle, the mystery of his queer behaviour still unsolved. Out of everyone, he was most concerned about the redhead, Kyle experiencing more violent and extreme episodes than anybody (to his knowledge at least). He caught bits and pieces of Kyle's mumbles, not understanding a word of speech but understanding the emotions mixed in. He wasn't happy, and for once his Super Best Friend was making things worse instead of better. Not the first time such a phenomenon occurred, but having something like that happen was pretty rare. Loyal and true, though, Kenny wasn't afraid to step in. Even if he stayed in the background, he was always there for Kyle—and everyone else too. His main focus, though, was to tend to the Jew.

"Ky," He placed a hand on the redhead's shoulder.

His head snapped up, pursing his lips. His face went to stone, chiselled out of marble with emeralds and amethysts embedded in the eye sockets of the statue. He at least tried to make himself void of emotion, but a look deep into his pupils said otherwise.

Swirling in the darkness he saw a battle. Nothing like 300 or anything with guts and gore; but a mental battle. A battle for dominance, a battle for control. The two sides struggled, one the normal Kyle, and the other whoever or whatever had been causing his woe. The fighting started recently, both parties fairly fresh as they fought, but already the enemy had the upper-hand. Kyle still held, he was still there, but for some reason it seemed the enemy wanted him to last. Kyle's resistance prolonged the fighting just to the enemy's liking, occupying its time with the fun of making petty jabs and bad gags from Loony Tunes. It needed resistance; Kyle giving in would be too easy.

And Kyle doesn't give in...

"Kenny."

He blinked, shaking his head, zooming out to see Kyle's entire face.

The redhead's lips curved down into a tight frown, both brows raised inquisitively.

"Can you stop doing that?" The Jew went on, shrugging off Kenny's hand, "I keep thinking you're, like, eye raping me or something."

"It's not rape if ya want it, Ky," The blond joked, putting on a goofy grin to hide his unease and adding juvenile humour to lighten the mood; as always.

"Well as much as I'd love for you to make sexual advances on me, I think I should go home," Kyle said with a roll of the eyes, turning to head back to the Broflovski residence.

"Hey, why can't we hang out for once?" Kenny pouted, hurrying in front of the boy.

"Because my mom's probably going to run you through a breathalyser and do eight different drug tests before letting you through the door," Shelia, as years progressed, liked Kyle's friends less and less, or at least voiced her distaste more often. Her opinions on Stan were mostly positive, Cartman never had a chance (not that Kyle cared), and Kenny found himself on a steady decline since Kyle chipped in money to bail Kenny out of jail for a small possession charge. That set aside, she never approved of his presumptuous lothario attitude or his heavy use of profanity and innuendo.

"...You have a point..." Kenny shivered, an encounter with a miffed Shelia Broflovski far more terrifying than any death he'd ever faced, "But why do you have to go home?"

"So I can do homework?" Kyle answered plainly, moving around the blond, feet sloshing in the snow, "I might as well leave before she finds out I got a detention I probably can't stay for."

"Pfft, no one stays for detention, dude," Kenny laughed. In a belated reaction, he chased after Kyle, stepping in front of him again and walking backwards, "Now why don't we go do something fun together?"

"Because half the time you'll just go between yearning over screwing some dumb bimbo or making clawing at my dick, neither of which I'm up for at the moment."

"I'm sorry; I'll shut up about the bimbos if they make you jealous." He smirked, eyes twinkling.

Kyle scoffed, sticking out his tongue, "Honestly I don't know what I'm supposed to say to you sometimes..."

"Actions speak louder than words, Kyle," Kenny said.

"Are you trying to be deep or trying to convince me to let you in my pants?"

"Up to your interpretation, baby," He purred, putting on a Cheshire cat smile.

"Kenny..." Kyle massaged his temples, "You leave me speechless."

"I'll take your blatant sarcasm as a rain check, yeah?"

"That would imply I'd actually give you a chance."

"Oh we can get down like there's no one around, and we will one of these days."

"I thought you weren't flirting with me."

"Hey, that was if we hung out. But since you're so sure of going home to do hours of stupid ass equations and shit, I might as well have my fun."

"Can you have fun without adding sex into the mix?"

"Oh so you wanna get high?"

"How about no."

"Well, I kinda wanna get high right now," They both stopped, Kenny standing on asphalt and Kyle on concrete. Now that the thought crossed his mind, a little weed to expand range of thinking could help his problem solving.

...That was bullshit. He knew it was—no use lying to himself when it was obvious—but that didn't make the urge any less prevalent, the idea growing like a weed itself.

"Try not to scramble your brain anymore, okay?" Kyle asked.

"No promises, sweetheart," Kenny shrugged, worries and anxiety overwhelmed by the fantasy of hallucinogenics and questionable substances. He started off without even realising it, body as excited as the mind for a good fix of something. A tingling sensation ran through his legs, prickling the skin from underneath. Somehow, his brain overrode that branch of the nervous system, making Kenny care less about the feeling.

"Bye," Kyle waved, eyes following the blond as he walked away.

"I'll talk to ya later, Kyle!" He called, waving quickly before hopping and zooming towards his house, darting down the middle of the street and cutting through lawns.

The Semite sighed. Another burst of wind slapped his side, the boy holding down his hat by the flaps, cold oxygen nipping at his cheeks.

At least now I can go home, take a hot shower, and sort things out with a warm cup of tea...

And get away from these indignant assholes... Hell at least my goddamn mother appreciates me...

For once, maybe a little gushing adoration from his mother didn't sound too terrible.

That was probably the worst part about it.


Bebe stood amongst the crowd of students, caring not why the alarm was pulled, discussing with some of the girls what to do with the free time they now had.

In that time, she forgot most of what only recently went down in the lunch room, memory blotted by a smirch like Starbucks coffee spilt on a homework problem. Sally was there, Annie was there, Lola was there...they talked...and Sally left, and then Annie. That was the extent of her memory, all her words and her vicious comments lost with the rest of the audio track, just a few flashing mute images telling her the story of her time in the cafeteria.

The other girls were gone, lost in the commotion, not that Bebe particularly cared. They all had their own selfish things to tend to—whether it be a boyfriend or another BFF or whatever the hell else there was for a small town girl to care for—and Bebe wasn't much of an exception.

The blonde waved to the others as they passed by, knowing most of them, flashing each one who looked at her a million dollar smile. She showed no signs of anything wrong, mentally or physically, appearing to the others as the same sociable Bebe Stevens they knew since grade school. She was still the golden gift from heaven that blessed the school with her radiance and grace.

...People are smiling at me; people are looking at me... That's the way it should be...

"Hi Timmy! Hey Bridon! Tweek, hey!" She greeted random kids as they passed, usually getting a wave back or at the very least a smile and a case of wandering eyes. She didn't care much how she got it, as long as she got the attention she sought, "Red, Jimmy, looking good! Congrats! Oh hi Heidi!"

"Bebe!" Someone called from behind.

She twirled around, hair flipping around her neck, strands blowing in her face. She squinted through the screen of gold, tucking some of the hair behind her ear.

Coming up to her was Token, jogging at an even pace. The glint in his dark almond eyes spoke for him, telling the girl he was looking for her specifically. And, from the slight shimmer to his dark chocolate skin, he'd been darting around the crowd a while in search for her.

"Token, baby, what's up?" Bebe asked, shifting her weight to one leg, putting a hand on her hip casually.

He slowed down, halting in front of her, breathing heavily through his nose. Token towered over Bebe, standing a solid six foot three with broad shoulders and chiselled muscles that hid beneath his thick wool sweater and dark pants. He was dashing, charming, and down-to-earth, not to mention the captain of the basketball team, wide receiver, and only African-American in the entire school. Attractive as Bebe—and most of the other girls for that matter—found him, Token stayed out of the popular crowd whenever he could, sticking to Craig and the rest of his crew more often than not. So approaching the very epitome of South Park High's popular ideal wasn't part of the usual routine.

"Hi..." He nodded; taking a moment to word what he was about to say in his head before saying it aloud, "Have you...seen Clyde? Craig's been looking for him since lunch."

"Well he left halfway through and I don't know where he went," The blonde shrugged, "I'm his girlfriend, not his babysitter." Even if it feels like that with the way that boy acts sometimes...

"Well I thought you might know since he's always hanging out with you more than us," Token rolled his eyes, "It's just logical reasoning."

"Honey, I know Craigy wants Clyde back, but he's gotta learn that sharing is caring, kay?" Gold glittered in the girl's eyes, "I don't want to shoot the messenger, I know you're a sweet guy, Token, but Craig needs to stop being so damn possessive. It's no wonder people call you guys his bitches." The words spilt out of her mouth with little thought put into them.

Token's lips pressed into a hard line, raising a thick brow as he stared at the golden girl. He expected Bebe to speak without thinking—most people at school said whatever was on their mind like they were the main character of some teen sitcom—but this was one of the moments when he just wanted to just shake someone for mouthing off. Token wasn't a violent person; he just got sick of people missing the point.

"Bebe," He sighed, wiping his forehead in frustration, "That's not what I meant at all. I was just asking if you knew where he was and thought that you of all people would know since last I heard, he was with you. I'm sure Craig was just curious since Clyde's been his—and my—friend since grade school. And we are not under any circumstances Craig's 'bitches'."

"God, you don't need to be so huffy about it," Bebe stuck out her tongue, "I'm not, like, trying to keep him from you. Plus I think he went to, like, talk to Jason or something anyway," She pointed randomly into one of the crowds, "Over there's probably ya best bet since there's a higher concentration of guys than girls. I wouldn't even be shocked if Craig already found him, then again he's probably sitting on his ass somewhere smoking cheap cigarettes and bitching for someone to suck him off."

"...Right..." Token nodded slowly. If anything, Bebe just gave him more reasons not to hang out with her upper-class clique; and he was the richest of the school, "I'll just...talk to ya later."

Her smile returned, wiggling her fingers as she waved a goodbye to him, "Bye, honey, tell Clyde I love 'im,"

Token nodded his head, giving the blonde a shaky thumbs-up as he walked off, lips pursed. He turned, back facing the blonde as he quickly shot into the crowd.

Well... With him gone and no boyfriend to hang around with, I guess there's no point wasting time bullshitting around here... Boooooriiiiing...

Bebe whipped her hair, dipping her hand into her pocket in search of her cell phone. After tapping a few buttons and unlocking the device, she went to her contacts, adding a long list of her myriad of BFFs before moving to the text box.

'Meet dwntwn 4 sum shopping?' She typed, fingers moving at lightning speed before she jammed down on the green 'send' button.

She waited a few seconds.

The phone vibrated madly in her palm, the number of new messages going up with every half a second, each one of them an acceptance to the outing invitation.

Bebe's smile grew as she scanned the messages, walking towards the student parking lot as she scrolled through the texts. She sent a few replies, saying who she'd ride with and how their little elitist shopping mission would work out, and then shoved the cell back in her pocket, a content look on her face.

An unexpected girls' day out would be a nice turn of events, and she'd end up going home with a few new nice things on top of it.


"SON OF A BITCH!" Cartman shouted, leaning on the rusted railing of the back steps, catching himself after nearly slipping on some ice on the top step and avoiding a nasty fall.

He and Butters ran out the backside of the school, winding up near all the rancid smelling trash and unkempt dumpsters. The thick stench of old school lunches and build up of various janitorial clean ups hung in the air, suffocating the two milling on the narrow concrete stairs. After all these years, the latent tinge of tobacco mixed with the odour, serving as a reminder of the place's former job as the Goth kids' hangout. The musty rug still lay in the snow, broken radio propped against the wall, the four children of darkness out of the school system and spending their time elsewhere these days, dropouts of either high school or college. Even without them sitting there as rambling nonconformist nuisances, the place still wasn't all that great.

"C-Careful, Eric!" Butters chirped, cowering near the door, occasionally glancing over his shoulder at the drop to the ground. A few feet seemed like a few stories to him.

"Fucking ice," The brunet grumbled, taking a long step over the slippery patch and onto the next stair, "Goddammit, who even pulled the freaking alarm?"

"I-I-I-I dunno!" The blond shrugged, gripping the guardrail for dear life, staring intently at the steps as he made his way down after Cartman, "B-b-but ya think there's a r-real fire?" His eyes bulged, terrified of the thought.

"Pfft, no," Eric scoffed, hopping off and skipping a few steps, feet making craters in the snow. He took a few steps, then turned to face the cowardly boy, "Look at the sky," He pointed to the blue sky, "No smoke. If there was a fire we'd see some smoke by now and smell barbequed furniture. Plus the inside of the school'd be lit up like a goddamn candle from the fire," He rolled his eyes, "God you're such a retard."

"I-I'm sorry..." The boy replied, slinking tentatively down the stairs, head held low. He shuffled his feet when he stood on the ground, kicking little bits of snow as he bit his lip, "S-s-sometimes I'm a-a lil' slow s'all..." He hated admitting his slow wit, it usually earning him a lower opinion in the eyes of others. Deep down, he did mean well.

"Yeah, a little," Cartman snorted, pulling up the collar of his shirt to cover his nose, creating a filter for the horrid smell. His eyes flickered around, seeing no one around and no one to force him anywhere. Why hang around the stinky back of the school when with a mother at home cooking great food and a spot on the couch right in front of the television?

"I'm getting outta here," He added, starting off towards his house, ready for a nice bag of Cheesy Poofs and a recorded marathon of Terrance and Phillip.

"Huh?" Butters' head snapped up, "Where ya goin'?"

"Home, dibshit," Eric said, speeding up, "No one's going back to class and I'm not hanging around next to a fucking dumpster with a little faggot when I could be watching some goddamn TV."

"C-c-can I come?" He stammered, missing the point.

"What part of not hanging out with a little faggot didn't you get?" The brunet said with a snarky edge.

"O-oh..." Butters gulped, foot twisting around his other ankle, "We-we-well I'll see ya tomorrow, then..."

Cartman waved his hand carelessly, trudging off and disappearing round the bend.

Butters shivered as the wind blew at him, chilling his bones and polluting his nostrils with the dumpster's scent. He bit his lip, feeling it chap from the cold air. A grumble came from his stomach, torso vibrating as he looked around.

"We-well no use st-st-stickin' 'round here..." He muttered to himself, wrapping his arms around his belly and beginning to walk the other way, "I-I guess I can...go w-wait for Mom or somethin'..."

He let his feet carry him away, teeth weakly nibbling on the flesh of his lips, mind wandering as he wandered. Butters got used to being lonely—in the end he didn't have much for people anyway—though today the vacancy expanded, trying to swallow him up. Instead of flashing a smile or running to find Dougie and turn into Professor Chaos, he let the feeling sit, watching it grow, standing on the edge and looking into the void.

He wanted company.

More company.

Just more of something to fill the emptiness.

The blond let out a soft sigh, squeezing his torso tighter. The organs inside knotted. His stomach chortled wryly, clambering for food to vacuum up and attempt to patch the growing hole. The wind slapped his cheeks, frosting the bare skin as he marched on.

Oh hamburgers... D'oh why'd I haveta mention hamburgers...? Aw dangit...

Another gurgle came from his belly, stomach voicing complaints.

...Food just some food, just some SOMETHING...

"BUTTERS!" A high-pitched yelp broke the damper air.

The blond shook his head, noticing that he'd walked into the centre of one of the rows of the school parking lot. When he looked up, he saw a car filled with girls, Red in the driver's seat and Heidi at her side, a bundle of blondes crammed into the back. The two in the front seat glared at him, waiting for him to hurry up or so help them they'd floor it and leave his body all over the damn lot.

HONK! HONK!

"W-wah!" Butters jumped, suffering a delayed reaction.

"Butters, over here!" A voice called from the side. When the boy looked, he saw Leroy waving him over, Dogpoo and Francis beside him.

Butters looked at the seething girls, then at the boys, then back at the girls. He blinked, knowing what to do, yet still acting uncertain about it.

HONK! HOOOOOOONK!

Francis muttered something, scrambling over to Butters, grabbing his wrist, and yanking him over to the side of the road, motioning for the girls to go.

Butters whirled around, watching with a gaping mouth as the car slowly passed, various laughs and insults leaking from the open windows. In the back seat on the side closest to him, he saw Bebe look over, giggling right in his face for just a second, and then the car was gone.

"Jesus Christ," Dogpoo frowned, "The hell were you thinking?" There was bitterness to his tone, his resentment towards the blond showing in his voice.

"I..." Butters blinked his eyes rapidly, "I dunno..."

"Gawd, you're gonna get yourself killed if you keep that up," Leroy said, adjusting his glasses. He didn't sound as though he particularly cared if such a situation did occur.

"We-well I've been a-a lil' stressed out today!" Butters whined, throwing his hands in the air and giving the three lesser popular brunets a sad look.

Dogpoo rolled his grey eyes, brushing dirt off his forever stained coat. Leroy snorted, nostrils flaring, looking like a pimply pig for a moment. Francis was the only sympathetic one, letting out a sigh of pity.

"Butters, try not to play road kill," He said, taking a moment to blow a stray clump of hair out of his face, "God knows you might meet someone who'll actually mow ya down."

"Hey they wouldn't do it!" The blond pouted, imitating a small child with big eyes and a quivering bottom lip, "The girls're real nice."

"Dude, they just laughed at you when they drove by," Dogpoo pointed out, "You're lucky Bebe didn't spit on ya when the car passed."

"Hey, she ain't like that!" Butters snapped, furrowing his brow, "She's real nice to me!" He'd defend that girl with every fibre of his being. Even after she insulted him during his long ago undercover mission as 'Marjorine', he still found her just as sweet and kindly as the other boys head over heels for her, developing a boyish crush himself. Of course, everyone who knew about it thought the idea was stupid, Butters dwelling on the outer crust of the social workings and Bebe in the very core. Just more reason for others to take pity on the simple boy.

"Yeah, whatever, just don't play in traffic," Francis said dully.

GUUUUUUUUGRGRGRGH!

"Sweet Jesus," Butters gasped, staring at his stomach, a flush of embarrassment washing over him.

The other three gave the blond odd looks.

"I...I guess I'm just extra hungry today..." He lifted his head, smiling sheepishly.

The trio was not impressed.

"BUTTERS STOTCH!" A shrill cry pierced the boys'—as well as the rest of the kids in the parking lot's—eardrums.

Butters looked in the distance, swallowing all the saliva in his mouth hard as his mother approached, appearing rather displeased.

"H-hey Mom!" He waved, watching the other boys split from the corner of his eye.

"What are you doing here young man?" Linda shouted, "Shouldn't you be in line with your class?"

"B-b-but I wasn't in class when the bell rang!" Not like anybody even stays in line anyways...

"Then where were you?" She crossed her arms, tapping her foot on the pavement.

"Wi-with Eric!" He peeped.

"Right, and where is he now?" The blonde woman raised a brow, patiently awaiting an answer she could shoot down. Even though the Stotch family divorced, both parents still found joy and assurance in grounding their only child.

"Gu-gu-gu-gone..." He sadly admitted.

"You are grounded, mister," Linda spoke like a judge, delivering the verdict without giving her boy a fair trial or tangible grounds, "We're going home, now."

"Yes ma'am..." Butters mumbled.

GUUUUUUUUUURGRGRGRGH!

"C-can we maybe stop and get somethin' to snack on the way ho-?"

"NO."

"A-alright then..."

May-maybe I'll be grounded with the refrigerator...


"Isn't this nice?" Wendy asked, arm locked with Stan's as they walked to the Marsh house. They took a more direct route, already spotting some of the residential houses, passing a few of the duplexes always for rent and the houses that always had a car in the driveway yet no one appeared to live there.

"Huh?" Stan's head bobbed, the boy forcing his eyes open, "Oh...yeah...sure..." He wasn't all too talkative, but Wendy decided to be chatty. He knew she liked deep conversations and all of that, but he frankly didn't have nearly enough energy or brainpower to conduct an intelligent conversation without collapsing in the snow halfway through.

"Just you and me on a nice calming walk out early from school..." She went on, leaning her head on Stan's shoulder. Not once did any doubt or worry overtake her, the raven-haired girl intoxicated by her own content thoughts of having her prized and beloved boyfriend. For the first time all day, she felt at ease.

Though it should've comforted Stan as well, he couldn't help but feel queasy at her sudden displays of affection. She said she'd talk to him, and he wanted to listen; but would he be sure to keep tuned in or would he short-out before that happened?

"Wendy..." Stan said, "What's going on with you...really?"

"What do you mean what's going on?" She replied, a sharp undertone to her innocence.

"I mean you looked pretty freaked out in Marine Biology..." He went on, staring off into the mountains, "And you said you'd explain why..."

"Oh..." Wendy's skin paled a shade, "That..." She didn't know how to explain it—she'd forgotten it—and she didn't really want to. She was happy and she wanted to enjoy the moment. But Stan was managing to ruin it without any outside help to blame.

"Yeah... Mind explaining?" Stan mumbled, words slurring. Shit... After a blessed hour or so of not succumbing to another sleeping spell, the lassitude worsened, pressuring him to let his eyes gently close and draw him back into the possible death trap awaiting him beyond the world of the conscious and awake.

"I-it's nothing important," She said in a grim tone, stiffening with a hard grimace, "Really, let's just enjoy ourselves."

"It's not... Nothing... And it is...important," The breaks in his speech made it all the more obvious that he was losing his battle, and giving Wendy more reason to dodge the answer. He reached up and massaged the bridge of his nose, pattern of circulation diluting the pains from his crashing mind.

"Stan, you're tired, I don't want to argue," Wendy's tone sharpened, the blade of her voice sharp and piercing as a sword, slashing through her sangfroid. The composure facade couldn't hold much longer if Stan kept prying, and his questions only sent signals for the rat scuffling inside the ebon girl's head to bite more wires, giving her false alerts of threat. They were a threat to the alien, but not to her. To her, the questions would've opened up a chance to tell Stan more of the wrong situation for him to ponder when he could think without his brain running like Windows 97.

If his brain could think properly again, anyway.

"Wendy... You're using... That tone..." Stan knew Wendy his entire life, dating her a good half of it. When Wendy's words turned sounded like verbal weapons rising, she was obviously getting defensive. Wendy took up that tone rather often—especially around Cartman—but rarely was it ever directed at him. If anything, she was begging for Stan to investigate further.

"I'm not using a tone you're just tired," She harshly hissed, venom coating her words unintentionally.

Stan squeezed the bone of his nose. His ears registered his girlfriend's statement as a metallic hiss of a snake, the last noise he wanted to hear. His eyes shut, Stan stopping short as he swam—drowned—in the deathly images and sensations left from the nightmare.

Snakes slithering...

Brimstone burning...

Heat suffocating...

"STAN!"

He opened his eyes, immediately spying Wendy hovering over him. An aura of green encompassed her, glowing like a radioactive angel. At least, angel was the first thought that crossed his mind. Her eyes shined a brilliant and bright green, much like Kyle's he thought, disarrayed hair blowing softly in the breeze, her expression of maternal and loving concern a soothing sight to see.

Yet, just like the last time he blacked out, her image distorted before him. Unlike last time, however, the green wrapped around her, wrapping her up in thick luminescent chains, locks adorned of all varieties. The love turned to terror, parted lips mouthing out screams as green coloured her skin from the bottom up, a watery texture coming to her. Although he looked up at her, she appeared as though he was looking down at her, watching her as green swallowed her up, appearance fractured like she was sinking into water, hair floating in nonexistent liquid. The green darkened, going from a lighter sea green to a deep, murky olive. It consumed her, eating her like a snake gulping up a rat of a small dog, Wendy soon becoming a featureless forest green figure with neon green lines where the chains belonged and two slits were the eyes once were.

Stan's heart froze in his chest, terrified more by this hallucination than any other; perhaps more than the nightmare. Reality wasn't even safe anymore, the two words colliding, and bringing hell to him.

Sleep didn't seem that bad anymore, the hole with the snakes a luxurious condo on the seaside of the Caribbean in comparison to seeing these things. The others were tolerable by a stretch; but seeing Wendy plunge into a watery abyss turned the knife inside him.

"STANLEY RANDALL MARSH!"

Stan shot up, taking a deep breath, breaking out of the daydream. The green cloud vanished, blowing away in the wind and fading.

He looked around, figuring out what'd happened in the real world during his lapse. Snow covered his back, some clumps caught in the collar of his jacket, chilling the back of his neck and hiding in his hair. Behind him was an imprint of where he laid in the blanket of white, his upper body making more of a crime scene silhouette than a snow angel of any sorts. His bum sat next to the sidewalk and the snow-covered grass, legs spread awkwardly across the span of the beige concrete.

I could've hit my head and that's why... He thought, clinging still to logic. His hope in reason over the course of the day stood on its last leg, sense diminishing in value. He really hoped it was just the apparent lack of sleep causing this. Please have it just go away and it just be the sleep...

"Get up," Wendy reached out, grabbing Stan's arm with both hands and pulling him off his ass, "You need some rest and care NOW!"

Stan swayed as he stood, barely hearing Wendy speak. All his thoughts centred around his plan for when he got home.

I don't want to but I do and I have to I gotta sleep before Freddy comes around the corner and starts slitting throats or some psycho shit like that...

As Wendy beat the snow off Stan's back, a Navigator rolled up on the side of the road, slowing down and breaking next to the couple. Slowly, the window rolled down, revealing Randy Marsh at the wheel of the car. The low sound of tween pop (convinced that he was still 'cool' listening to that garbage) played from the speakers, shattering the silence with shit sounds to a drumbeat.

"Staaaan," Randy said, letting the 'a' drag as always. Although Randy tended to be a ball of energy most of the time, he set himself into serious dad mode, obviously noting Stan's shabby state. He hadn't entirely abandoned his fun loving often flippant nature, but he tried harder since the remarriage to control his moods and actions more. If not for Sharon, he at least wanted his son to think better of him, their father-son relationship growing rocky and slightly strained as adolescent hormones ignited and raged.

Stan glanced over at his father, not feeling all too talkative and irked by the tween pop on the radio.

"Hey, Dad," He replied.

"Hi, Mr. Marsh," Wendy peaked over Stan's shoulder.

"Hi..." Randy looked around awkwardly a moment, "Shouldn't you be at school?"

"Fire alarm...out early...yeah..." Stan refrained from saying just why and who pulled the alarm.

"Oh," Randy nodded, "Well you kids shouldn't have to walk all the way home," He fixed his eyes on Stan, "Especially you, son, you look tired."

"Yeah..." Thank you, Captain Obvious...

"Come on, get in the car," Randy took a hand on the wheel, waving them in, "Wendy I can just drop you off and Stan when we get home we're going to make sure you're okay...and stuff."

The couple looked at each other, neither immediately jumping at the chance. Wendy, although she didn't mind Randy, felt the creeping intimidation crawling back to loom over her again. Stan, though tired, wasn't sure if he wanted to spend a car ride with his father. In the end, though, he figured he'd be a lot better off in a car than wondering the streets as a zombie.

"Fine, Dad," Stan sighed, hobbling to the passenger's seat, opening it up and sliding in. Wendy took the backseat, sitting directly behind Stan, her gaze repelling from the mirrors. Once the two buckled their seat belts, Randy eased his foot on the gas pedal, setting the car in motion.

Wendy folded her hands on her lap, head down, occasionally peaking at Stan from under her lashes. She remained quiet. Yet, in her silence, she didn't notice the whispers in her mind—these ones considerable softer, but there none the less.

Randy kept his eyes on the road, bobbing his head to the trashy beat, making a few fart sounds every now and again to copy the 'lyrics' of the song. Randy's usual response to problems was to take his mind off of them, for a little while at least. He wasn't the type of father or type of person to start questioning his boy on health matters (most of which he knew little about regardless).

Stan rested his head on the cool glass window, drooping in his seat, eyelids sagging. With what little vision he had left, he watched the scenery slowly roll by, the sight making him drowsier. He no longer desired to fight the sleep, choosing one evil over another, preferring his subconscious torture him in that world rather than it spilling into his own. Satisfaction wasn't fully present, but a form of contentment was. He survived the trails of school, for the most part, and was on his way home to change out of his heavy outwear, slink between his bed sheets, lay his head on his pillow, and drift far away from his ditty little home town.

Yet, with that thought, he wasn't sure where he that far away place was exactly.

Just how peaceful this sleep would be Stan deemed debatable.


Kenny's thoughts flowed in a circuitous manner, his train of thought constantly switching tracks, whirling around mountains of memory and through valleys of worry. He paid little attention to where he was walking, knowing the way already, taking a short cut through the unfenced backyards of the few families gutsy enough to risk a wild animal (or Cartman) from breaking in and messing with the plants or some such thing.

Several times he'd try to push himself to solve more of the mystery at hand-think about the strange behaviours of everyone else-but every time he just drove himself further off track. A thought of Stan's sleepiness somehow steered him to sleeping WITH people. A passing note of Wendy's unusually moody air somehow directly related to light grey smoke clouding the room and filling it with the scent of marijuana. Eric's fiery temper brought him to the small flame of a lighter burning the end of a fresh cigarette. And when it came to Kyle, he couldn't help but think of the sweet and sensual feeling of dominance and sexual pleasure.

Whenever he caught the thoughts, most of which he saw as far from the original subject, he'd shake his head, thinking of something new only for the cycle to repeat.

Focus eluded him, petty desires dancing in his mind, each vice another beautiful woman in scanty clothing twirling around a pole to him. And he had a mental strip club opening up with all the indulgences he yearned for.

I gotta quit thinking like this... Gotta focus on... Important shit... Like...

Sex.

Alcohol.

Drugs.

Those three words popped to the forefront of his mind. He knew they were all the wrong answers, but that didn't make them any less tempting. Kenny always dreamt of a life of luxury, escaping from the world of pain and poverty to live in a realm of spice and zest; live in a paradise he created.

His own Garden of Eden, woven from fragmented fibres of scrap into something beautiful, wheat spinning into gold. That fantasy always floated in his mind, usually coming out for more development when he was having a particularly rough day. The troubles all went away there, they all disappeared. In a dark world shrouded with the lies of 'Don't worry, he didn't hit me that hard' or 'I swear I'm not that hungry' or other fibs to get the others to stop their constant worrying, it gave Kenny a place to think about going later. Out of the living hellhole and into a heaven crafted with his own blood, sweat, and tears. It was a hope, a hope bloated with sin, the forms of amusement sewn into the dream world all self-destructive. Thinking of the consequences of the unobtainable fantasy tended to knock the blond out of it, knowing all he had were drafts in desperate need for revision. But today the stakes sounded perfectly manageable, true lethality vastly underestimated.

It'd be perfect... No bullshit to worry any of us... Booze for everyone... Enough drugs to keep a guy happy for the rest of his life... Fuck ton of girls with big tits and problems keeping on their clothes... Yeah... That's it... That's... The good life...

The dream intoxicated him, the blond forgetting he was walking in the snow of the Rockies, instead finding himself walking on a beach in some island in god knows what sea. The waters calmly washed over the fine white sand that softly cushioned Kenny's feet. A soft, warm breeze caressed his skin, the sun smiling down upon him as well as his utopia. Just like all the brochures advertised, there was a nice chair under a slender palm tree, an umbrella casting a much needed shadow over the seat. On a small end table beside the seat, a coconut cup sat, filled with a strong pina colada. A container of hash oil burned, the aroma swirling in the atmosphere. Five women stood around the set up, all dressed in short hula skirts, breasts hanging out, each a different skin colour, hair colour, and eye colour. The girls all smiled at him, moving their hips and motioning towards the seat, urging him to come to them.

He went without hesitation, grinning with every step closer. Wasn't much, but to him, it'd be heaven.

One step, then another, then another.

The girls danced over to him, all laughing, voices as succulent as their appearances. They surrounded the blond, gathering around him, gluing themselves to him, each staring up happily.

He looked between them, eyes flickering from the hazelnut eyes of the mocha-skinned girl, to the aquamarine of the sun-kissed platinum haired one. The ink haired Asian ran her hands down his arm, dark eyes glittering. Meanwhile, an amber-eyed blonde pressed her body against his side. But, most appealing and beautiful of all, was the redheaded girl right in front of him, hair a fine crimson, eyes a brilliant emerald, and skin a divine porcelain tone. She had her dainty hands on Kenny's shoulders, pulling herself against him, her chest against his.

Kenny reached out a hand, brushing back some of the redhead's curls, her appearance ringing a few bells, yet implacable in the real world, at least on none of the girls he remembered. It didn't matter, nothing had to in paradise.

In the moment of perfection, all hell broke loose. All the girls' smiles curled sinisterly, revealing razor sharp teeth and prickly forked tongues. Their well-manicured nails grew, turning to long jagged points that scratched the surface of his skin like knives. All their eyes went from whatever colour they once were to a sterling red, shining like crystals of polished frozen blood.

The sunlight above intensified, going from a balmy yellow to a blazing light blue, incinerating the serine beach setting, vaporising the water of the ocean. The salty and herbal smell of the air turned to a putrid odour of sulphur and ash. The beach sand became ash, also serving as a layer of quicksand, sucking his feet down and locking him in place, leaving him at eye level of the five demons. Flames flared, the fire's crackle only matched by the women's cackles.

Heaven plunged straight into Hell.

Kenny's smile changed to a look of sheer terror, heart nearly stopping in his chest. There was no escape from his burning garden. His haven became his prison.

The fire-haired temptress leaned over to him, her laugh louder than the others, hers far more taunting, each giggle another lash with a whip. His eyes widened as she neared, but before she could flick her barbed wire tongue at him, the flames engulfed them, everything turning blue and burning.

Burning.

Burning.

Burning.

DOINGGGGGGGGGG!

"FUCK!" Kenny exclaimed, stumbling back and rubbing his head with one hand and eyes with the other. The his eye sockets were on fire again-a problem he'd really need to talk about with someone with medical knowledge and little to no fee (so Kyle...)-and his head took a nice hitting when he walked right into the railroad sign.

Slowly, he opened his eyes, blue tint burning away as the real world reminded Kenny where he truly dwelled. Just on the other side of the track and a short walk down, he saw his beat up hovel, trash littered lawn and broken down Chevy in the driveway waiting for him. A couple of strays loafed around in the yard, more cats for Kenny to foster. Even though the McCormicks could barely feed themselves, their legion of cats was ever expanding.

The blond shook his head, mumbling a string of slurred swears as he walked around the sign, crossing the tracks and heading towards the house.

Fuck, God knows I need a drink... Or a whole damn six-pack...


A/N: Another chapter done! I actually got this done quicker, what a marvel. Would've been even QUICKER if I didn't have so much work lately, but oh well. It's done. I've been working tentatively around the Marsh situation considering the recent happenings of Season 15. Pumped for October 5th?

Everyone's back to being on their own again, pretty much, some just got more depth than others. Don't you worry, we'll look at Bebe and Butters and Cartman and Kyle in the very near future. If everyone had their little episodes at the same time that'd be just too cheesy, ya know?

I think I'm infamous for cutting chapters and splitting them in two, since the last leg of the day is going to be covered in the next chapter. That'll deal more with them all at home not to mention more enjoyable adventures in their suffering (and those aforementioned episodes)! So yeah, look forward to that, I'll work on that soon as I can. If you liked this chapter, the next one is gonna be even MORE fun!

Thank you very much for reading, and do leave a review. I want to thank my reviewers-ALL OF THEM-because you guys give me more of a push. I had a lot of extra inspiration after finishing the last chapter but all you lovely people made me want to work even faster.

So, yeah, just thanks to you for spending moments of your time reading and then for those of you reviewing the additional moments of your time writing something. Stick around, this is merely the tip of the iceberg. ~CQO